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Expert Alert

Expert help with back pain

July 10, 2012

If you’ve thrown your back out bending, lifting or twisting this summer, you’re not alone.

Not only is back pain the second most common reason for a visit to the doctor and the most common cause for missed work, but nearly 85 percent of Americans will suffer back pain lasting longer than two weeks at some point during their lifetime.

A comprehensive spinal care expert who can advise summertime weekend warriors on preventing or treating back pain is:

Sanjeev Arora, M.D., University of Minnesota Physicians physical medicine and rehabilitation expert and assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School.


According to Arora, everyone will experience some level of back pain at some point in their lives.  For some, susceptibility rises as their level of activity increases.  But for most patients, the direct cause of the pain can be hard to diagnose because what’s causing the pain can sometimes be unclear.

“Overall spine health is a product of many factors,” said Arora. “It can be promoted with a healthy diet, regular exercise, smoking cessation, a healthy BMI, caffeine avoidance and proper ergonomics in places such as the office.”

But just as spine health is the product of many factors, back pain can also come from a number of different sources.  Common sources of pain fall into three categories: soft tissue (muscles & ligaments), bony tissue (bones, joints and discs) and nerves.

Some people with jobs with a lot of lifting or repetitive activity, such as nurses, construction workers, carpenters and truck drivers, are more prone to back pain. These work-related pains are generally worse after the workday is done or at the end of week.

To prevent back pain:

  1. Stay active. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to avoid back pain, as long as it’s not overdone.
  2. When lifting, take your time, keep weight close to the body and never twist from the back.
  3. Practice good posture when sitting or standing to avoid muscle strain.

If you do end up with an ache in your back, rest, over-the counter-pain medications and the application of ice or heat often help to abate the pain.

To schedule an interview with Arora and learn more tips for preventing back pain this summer, contact Miranda Taylor, (612) 626-2767, or tayl0551@umn.edu.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: Academic Health Center

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